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Blue Economy Forum: How The Great Lakes Fosters Entrepreneurship

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Brandon Wong
University of Michigan, PhD, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science

Brandon P. Wong recently completed his PhD at the University of Michigan. He is a systems engineer with a dual training in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, as well as Civil and Environmental Engineering. He led the development and deployment of the technologies behind Open-Storm.org, an open source blueprint for smart water systems.

Hadar Borden
University at Buffalo, Director, Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars

Hadar Borden is the director of the University at Buffalo’s Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars, a campus-based entrepreneurship network. In addition, Hadar serves as the director of the Western New York Prosperity Fellowship Program, a leadership development program, generously funded by The Prentice Family Foundation that seeks to recruit and retain entrepreneurial-minded students to contribute to WNY. 

A University at Buffalo alumnus, Hadar holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in geography with a concentration in international business. In 2012, Hadar was awarded the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award in Professional Service.

Michael Schum
Fortun Brands Global Plumbing Group, Vice President, Product Development

Michael Schum has nearly 30 years’ experience in the automotive and consumer products industries.  Mike has spent the last 20 years at Moen (part of Fortune Brands Home & Security) in leadership roles in Marketing, Operations, Engineering and New Product Development.  

Currently, he is the Vice President of Global Product Development where he is accountable for the strategy, development and execution for all products worldwide for the company.  Finally, Mike and his wife Patti reside in the Cleveland area and are proud parents of two boys who are both students at the University of Dayton.

Eric Clark
Technology Incubation and Innovation Office at the NASA Glenn Research Center, Acting Deputy Director

Eric Clark is currently the Acting Deputy Director, Technology Incubation and Innovation Office at the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland, Ohio. His work focuses on promoting the development of advanced technologies to meet NASA’s mission goals including; The Technology Transfer Office, The Small Business Innovative Research Program, The Space Technology Research Grants Program, and the NASA Technology Transfer Expansion Program. Through these projects, small businesses are able to consult with NASA scientist to solve discrete technical challenges at no charge to the company. Eric provides technical leadership for GRC specific technology development collaborations and served as the technical and business interface between NASA scientist and commercial entities.

Paul Riser
TechTown, Inaugural Director

Paul Riser, Jr. serves as the inaugural Director of Detroit Urban Solutions at TechTown Detroit. This role entails leading a technology innovation consortium dedicated to advancing the growth of Detroit’s technology ecosystem and supporting the development of solutions to challenges that face Detroit and other urban areas. 

The core areas of focus are mobility, digital health, civic and smart city technologies. Prior to taking on the role as Director of Detroit Urban Solutions, Paul was the Managing Director of Technology-Based Entrepreneurship at TechTown Detroit where he guided the design, execution and management of the nonprofit’s technology programming for early stage companies. This included support for tech startups in the form of business acceleration, proof of concept, university and health care system commercialization and incubation services.

Riser is an entrepreneur, chief technologist, information officer and systems engineer with more than 20 years of professional experience working with start-up firms to global enterprises in the areas of IT systems administration, systems architecture, technology integration, technical pre-sales support and medical device development.

Max Herzog
Cleveland Water Alliance, Program Manager

Max Herzog is an Impact Innovation Professional dedicated to engaging diverse stakeholders in the development of tools and strategies that drive community development and resilience at the regional level. 

Max is currently working on next-generation water technology and intelligent water systems with the Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA). CWA is an innovation engine based in Northeast Ohio that generates and monetizes solutions to the greatest challenges facing Lake Erie and its watersheds. In his four years with CWA, Max has spearheaded and contributed to regional innovation initiatives that activated over one hundred entrepreneurial water solutions and two hundred stakeholder organizations from Windsor to Buffalo. As Program Manager, he coordinates the bi-national ecosystem of partners that drive the Water Alliance's cluster of programs and technologies.


A conversation on the role of water-based entrepreneurship in economic development across the Lake Erie region. Panel and Q&A.